Conference 3
We saw 225 conferees participate in Conference 3. With a steadily growing international roster--Canadians from Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia had been attending, some from the very first event; as well as new attendees arriving from Iceland, England, Ireland and France--we dropped the "national" from the title and became "Annual." (By Conference 5 we would incorporate "International" into the title. Hey, we learned as we grew.)

Deborah Kapoor, Prayer Ball, app. eight inches in diameter, mixed media with encaustic
Not only a splendid sculpture, a lovely metaphor for the whole ball of wax this year

Keynote and Panel
What better way to counterpoint a keynote speaker's talk on contemporary encaustic painting than with four conservators discussing the nuts and bolts of stabilizing old, often ancient, work so that it may viably coexist with contemporary art.

The Keynote
Our keynote speaker, Barbara O'Brien, was back by popular demand. A hit on the first Saturday Morning Panel, she was the person conferees most requested as a keynote. Of course we invited her back. In her talk, In Defense of Ambiguity: The Poetics of Encaustic, she traced her journey from not thinking about encaustic, to thinking about it as something exotic or other, to embracing it as a contemporary art medium. This may not sound like a groundbreaking journey for the average art viewer, but there is nothing "average" about O'Brien. Former editor of Art New England, the regional magazine of record, and a freelance critic and curator, O'Brien would go on to become the chief curator at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. This is the kind of person, and the kind of thinking, that moves encaustic out of a small circle of friends and into the mainstream art world.

Barbara O'Brien delivering the Conference keynote
Photo courtesy of Linda Womack

The Saturday Morning Panel
For the Saturday Morning Panel we had Conservators in Conservation. Pamela Hatchfield,
head of objects conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Mimi Leveque, conservator of objects and textiles at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.; Kate Smith, an independent curator who worked on the LaFarge Murals at Boston’s Trinity Church; and Carolyn Tomkiewicz, head of paintings conservaton at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, discussed the paintings and sculpture in wax and encaustic that they had worked on. What better way to counterpoint a keynote speaker's talk on "the poetics of encaustic" than with four conservators discussing the nuts and bolts of stabilizing old, often ancient, work so that it may viably coexist with contemporary art.

If anyone has links to blog posts that report on this panel, let me know and I'll put some of that into here. (As the moderator, it's almost impossible to take notes.)

You can read more on the Trinity Church Encaustic Murals in a report by Richard Frumess on the R&F Blog.

The Panel for Conservators in Conversation
Photo by Jordan Elquist

(Apologies to Greg Wright, who lost part of his right shoulder in the merge to make this panorama. I'll make it up to you in next year's post, Greg.)

The Exhibitions
There were five exhibitions at The Conference this year: the juried show, Beauty and its Oppposites in the 301 Gallery; The Luminous Landscape in the Hallway Gallery; a two-artist offering, In the Round, in the Schlosberg Gallery; Wax Libris installed on bookshelves in the library; and the experimental exhibition, Wax and Wane: Creation and Destruction, in the Frame Gallery, which was visible from the street. 

Beauty and Its Opposites
The juried show, Beauty and Its Opposites, asked artists to think beyond the seductiveness of wax to deliver submissions that either subverted the idea of beauty or expressed beauty unabashedly. Nicholas Capasso, chief curator of the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, made the selections from digital images. Because he was unable to view the work in person, he declined to suggest a Juror's Award. Instead, we offered conferees the opportunity to select a Popular Choice Award, the recipient of which was Robin Luciano Beaty. The Conference Award, selected by Shana Dumont, went to Gregory Wright, while the Director's award, selected by me, went to Elena De La Ville. All the works are shown in subsequent images.

Panoramic view of the 301 Gallery, where Beauty and Its Opposites took place

Below: The same space during the opening
Photo courtesy of Richard Frumess

Another panoramic view of Beauty and its Opposites. The work of Popular Award winner, Robin Luciano Beaty, is visible at the exact center of the pano, on the far wall

Three monotypes by Paula Roland, left, and a triptych by Conference award winner, Greg Wright
Below: Another triptych by award-winner Wright

The painting by Elena De la Ville, which received the Director's Award

The Luminous Landscape 
The Hallway exhibition, Luminous Landscape, was not only the name of the show, as the postcard above shows, it's the name of the collective, founded by Charyl Weissbach, Linda Cordner and Janet Bartlett Goodman, to exhibit the work of artists who explore landscape, via the medium of wax, from representational to abstract. See the exhibition in the four images below.

Viewing work by Tracy Spadafora, center, and Julie Shaw Lutts

From foreground: Three by Deb Claffey, four by Mary Taylor, two by Tracy Spadafora, three by Julie Shaw Lutts, two by Alexandre Masino, and two by Rodney Thompson

From left: Two by Charyl Weissbach, two by Maura Joy Lustig, three by Diane Bowie Zaitlin, two by Lindsay Bentis, installed side by side above a painting by Linda Cordner

Kimberly Kent with her two plein air landscapes
Photo courtesy of Linda Womack

In the Round
A two-artist ehibition, curated by Leonie Bradbury, took place in the Schlosberg Gallery of the hosting venue. Bradbury invited two artists to show: Deborah Kapoor, from Portland, Oregon, and Kim Bernard, who coincidentally, lives close to Portland, Maine. Three-dimensional work, spherical forms, and round shapes were the unifying elements in the exhibition.

Installation view, with work by Kapoor, left, and Bernard, far end of the exhibition space
Photo courtesy of Linda Womack

Below: Kapoor discussing her work

Kim Bernard, Hippodrome, mixed media and encaustic, app 36 inches diameter
Photo courtesy of Linda Womack

Wax Libris
For Wax Libris, I curated a small exhibition of handmade and altered books, book pages, and book objects.  As electronic media take us farther and farther away from the bound volume as a source of information and inspiration, handmade objects offer the "bookness" we have lost.

Panoramic view of the small show in the library of the hosting venue, with work by Jeanne Borofsky, Cari Hernandez, Supria Karmakar, Julie Shaw Lutts, Sandi Miot, Cherie Mittenthal, Catherine Nash, Raymond Papkas and others

From foreground: Papkas, Borofsky, Miot

Sandi Miot, Found Out Along the Way, encaustic and book parts, app 12 x 12 inches

Supria Karmakar, Ah, What Then, altered book with encaustic and mixed media, app. 8 x 16 inches

Cherie Mittenthal, Patron Saint of Wax Melters, encaustic on paper, app. 12 x 10  inches, framed

Wax and Wane: Creation and Destruction
Wax and Wan, an exhibition conceived by Miles Conrad for The Frame, the window gallery of a building that had once housed a department store, featured the small wax sculptures his Off the Wall class had made the previous year. (Scroll down and you'll see work from Conrad's Post-Con workshop this year.) This was a collaborative exhibition, with the sun as collaborator. Just as artists using heat brought these sculptures into creation, so the sun brought some of them to destruction. You can see where some of the elements melted or softened sufficiently to lose their hold on the grid. Thanks to Miles Conrad, director of the Conrad Wilde Gallery, Tucson, for taking on this project.

The heat of the sun was the collaborator for Wax and Wane

Talks and Demos
Some 40 Conference talks and demos, plus about 15 Post-Conference workshops held over three days, offered all things encaustic, as well as plenty to think about with regard to artmaking. These pics just touch on the range of offerings.

Lynette Haggard demonstrates how to use a variety of torches. When she pulled out the long hose, which eliminated holding a heavy heat gun or propane canister in favor of a light wand, the entire room experienced a collective "aha" moment

Richard Frumess discusses his topic, What is Paint?

 Beekeeper Melissa Hronkin discusses the influences of bees in contemporary art

Nathan Margalit demonstrates collage painting
Photo courtesy of Linda Womack

Miles Conrad talks about Presenting Your Work to a Gallery

Elena De La Ville discusses Narratives in the Wax, a look at the work of artists whose collaged or constructed works contain texts and stories

In What's the Big Idea, Sue Katz addresses the issues that go beyond medium to the essence of every artist's work

Sara Mast discusses the technical and esthetic issues involved in Working Large

Post-Conference Workshops
For me, Post-Con is the most wonderful aspect of the Conference. It's quieter and more intimate. Plenty of work gets done--good work--but the vibe is mellower. Let's peek into some of the workshops:

Miles's Post-Con workshop, Off the Wall--a perennial favorite--offers artists a chance to make sculpture in a relaxed and playful environment

Below, Eamonn, from Ireland, gets into the spirit

Sandi Miot, legendary in the Bay Area for her knowledge and generosity, taught a two-day post-con workshop on Working the Surface. That's Miot seated at right in the lime green shirt

Making sculpture in Kim Bernard's Casting Wax workshop
Below: Bernard

The Vendor Room
Each year  so far has found stalwarts--Enkaustikos, Evans, and  R&F--along with additional vendors, artists all, who round out the offerings. Miles Conrad joined the Vendor Room this year, as did Andrea Bird from Wax Works. Meanwhile, everyone has experienced that digging-into-the-purse or opening-the-backpack moment when it comes to pay for these fabulous supplies.

Andrea Bird and Hylla Evans
Bird, owner of Wax Works in Ontario, offered fusing irons and medium--especially lovely hexagons of encaustic medium; Evans, owner of Evans Encaustics in Sonoma, offered the paints you see in the foreground 

Miles Conrad, artist, teacher and gallery owner, offered catalogs of his annual Encaustic Invitational. For artists who work in wax, the invitational is a highlight of the encaustic year, held in a gallery that is Tucson's finest

Buzzing around the Enkaustikos table


Kim Curry stocking up

Something Special
Conferees were treated to something special off campus. Debra Ramsay and Cora Jane Glasser, New York artists and attendees of the Conference, created a Hotel Fair in their hotel suite. For three evenings they welcomed visitors to their exhibition, dubbed the "311 Salon," for the room number. If you've ever been to a Hotel Fair during one of the art-fair weeks in Manhattan or Miami, you know that artwork is put on display and the public is welcomed. Because Ramsay and Glasser held their event for three evenings running, the event turned into something of salon, with groups convening after dinner for conversation and, of course, to look at the work.

Ramsay and Glasser's event was such a hit that with their encouragement, and Ramsay's mentoring, we would create a Hotel Fair for Conference 5.

The crowd ebbed and flowed over the course of three evenings
Image courtesy of Nancy Natale

Debra Ramsay, above, and Cora Jane Glasser with their work on display
Because nails or tape cannot mar the walls, hotel fair participants everywhere become adept at finding ways to show: propping and leaning, as well as finding the kinds of sticky materials that allow for strong temporary adhesion

-- J.M.

Other blog links to The Conference:
Nancy Natale here and here 
Linda Womack here